Celebrating all things red, white, and blue on America’s birthday is one of country music’s favorite pastimes. 2021 is the United States’ 245th birthday, and given that it’s our first one post-quarantine, it offers quite a lot to celebrate. Outdoor barbecues and fireworks displays will be aplenty. Therefore, for those of you looking to add some favorites from Nashville (and elsewhere) to your playlists, here — from a trio of radio favorites to timeless classics from beloved icons — is a great place to start if looking to compile songs for your festive occasion.
Recently, Country Aircheck listed country’s most popular radio songs from Indepdendence Day 2020. Of that list, the trio at the top are as great of a place as any to start.
Kenny Chesney – American Kids
Kenny Chesney’s catchy song about a “Doublewide Quick Stop / midnight T-top / Jack in her Cherry Coke town” where
“Momma and Daddy put their roots right here / ’Cause this is where the car broke down” may be seven years old but has a timeless appeal for the 4th of July. The double-platinum selling single reached number one on the Billboard charts and was one of the year’s top 10 overall country songs.
Carrie Underwood – All-American Girl
Fascinatingly enough, regarding 2007-released “All-American Girl,” Carrie Underwood once told Entertainment Weekly that the high note during the bridge in the song is the highest note she has ever hit. Celebrating the life-cycle of a “beautiful, wonderful, perfect all-American girl,” the song was a number-one Billboard country hit.
Brooks & Dunn – Only In America
Holding universal appeal for blue and white-collar Americans is Brooks & Dunn’s rocking 2001 classic “Only In America.” Released in June 2001 as the second single from their album Steers & Stripes, it was the second of three consecutive number-one Billboard hits from that album.
As well, here are seven other forever favorites where country music honors America’s freedom and the fanciful vibes of summer.
Johnny Cash – Ragged Old Flag
In his 2013 biography Johnny Cash: The Life, the legendary country artist noted that, in the midst of America’s turbulent 1970s, he wrote “Ragged Old Flag” to “reaffirm faith in the country and the goodness of the American people.” Sang in the voice of an older man in a town square reflecting upon what the flag and country have been through together, it’s a perpetual country favorite. Famously, Eric Church performed a moving take on the classic at the 2020 Academy of Country Music Awards.
Billy Ray Cyrus – Some Gave All
The “Achy Breaky Heart” crooner’s debut album closer is “Some Gave All,” a tale of a soldier who “left a boy, came back a man” after serving in armed conflict. The hook, “And if you ever think of me / Think of all your liberties and recall / Some Gave All,” offers a note to independence and freedom that always resonates.
Thomas Rhett – American Spirit
Though not an officially released single from Thomas Rhett, the “To The Guys That Date My Girls” singer still released a video for his Tangled Up: Deluxe Edition track “American Spirit.” In a press release at the time of its debut, Rhett noted, “’American Spirit’ is one of my favorite songs to sit down and play on an acoustic guitar. So, I knew I wanted to make a video for it … I knew I wanted it to be simple and something that would pull on the heartstrings, and I think it’s the perfect blend of that.”
Josh Turner – Firecracker
Appropriately titled is country performer Josh Turner’s 15-year old top-five Billboard country chart single about a love so hot it explodes…like a firecracker. So if looking for a tune directly in line with setting off explosive entertainment that delights the night sky, you’re set with this one.
Alan Jackson – All American Country Boy
If your “neck’s a little red,” and your “collar’s blue” and you’ve worked a 40-hour week to earn your keep, Alan Jackson’s 1994 country anthem “All American Country Boy” feels like the perfect hit to satisfy your July 4 listening urges. “I’m my daddy’s spittin’ image and my mama’s pride and joy / There ain’t nothing down home that I really don’t enjoy / ’Cause I’m an all American country boy” the legend sings, and for many, it definitely hits home and strikes a chord.
Brothers Osborne – American Crazy
The lyrics of the Brothers Osborne’s 2016 track “American Crazy,” though five years ahead of 2021’s current social climate — for both the duo and the nation — ring profoundly. “The same sky, the same clouds, the same dirt, the same ground we all live and die on / The same song, the same beat, the same car, the same street we run down our dreams on / And we’re lost, and we’re found, we’re up, and we’re down, we’re all just American crazy / We’re left, and we’re right, we’re black, and we’re white, we’re all just American crazy.”
Waylon Jennings – America
Released as part of a 37-minute short film in 1984, outlaw icon Waylon Jennings’ “America” was a top-ten Billboard hit. Lyrically, its potency is in its brevity: “And my brothers are all black and white, yellow too / And the red man is right, to expect a little from you / Promise and then follow through, America / It’s home sweet home, America, America, America.”